Wolley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Wolley is a name whose history on English soil dates back to the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066. The Wolley family lived in Cheshire, at Woolley. "This family, anciently De Wolegh, or De Woloey, were settled in Longdendale, co Chester as early as the reign of King John." [1]

Early Origins of the Wolley family

The surname Wolley was first found in Cheshire where they held a family seat in Longdendale. Woolley is also located in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. These place names are derived from the Old English words wulf + leah and literally means "wood or clearing frequented by wolves." Two of the places are listed in the Domesday Book as Ciluelai in Cambridgeshire and Wiluelai in West Yorkshire. [2]

Another branch of the family was found at Thorpe in Surrey in later years. "The manor appears to have been held under the abbots of Chertsey in the 15th century, by a family named Thorpe: after the Dissolution, Queen Elizabeth granted the lands to Sir John Wolley, her Latin secretary." [3]

Early History of the Wolley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wolley research. Another 80 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1596, 1684, 1648, 1651, 1622, 1675, 1667, 1694, 1663, 1695 and 1771 are included under the topic Early Wolley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wolley Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Woolley, Wooley, Wooly and others.

Early Notables of the Wolley family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir John Wolley (d. 1596), Latin Secretary to Elizabeth, "was a native of Shropshire and a man of good family. " [4] Edward Wolley (d. 1684), was an English divine, Bishop of Clonfert, probably second son of Thomas Wolley and his wife Elizabeth. "Wolley was domestic chaplain to Charles I, and on the decline of that monarch's fortunes he took refuge abroad about 1648. He afterwards joined Charles II in his exile and became his chaplain. He was with Charles in Paris in 1651, but returned to England after seven years, spent on the...
Another 112 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wolley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Wolley family to Ireland

Some of the Wolley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Wolley migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Wolley or a variant listed above were:

Wolley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Wolley, aged 36, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [5]
Wolley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Joseph Wolley, who landed in New York in 1835 [5]
  • Samuel Wolley, aged 35, who arrived in New York in 1854 [5]

Australia Wolley migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Wolley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Wolley, English convict from Worcester, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on September 21, 1826, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]

New Zealand Wolley migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Wolley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Charles Wolley, (b. 1804), aged 60, English farm labourer from Yorkshire travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "William Miles" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 22nd October 1864 [7]
  • Miss Florence M. Wolley, (b. 1864), aged Infant, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Glenmark" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st January 1865 [8]
  • Mrs. Mary E. Wolley, (b. 1835), aged 29, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Glenmark" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st January 1865 [8]
  • Miss Elizabeth Annie Wolley, (b. 1863), aged 1, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Glenmark" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st January 1865 [8]
  • Mr. John Joseph Wolley (Woolley), (b. 1839), aged 25, British labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "Glenmark" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 21st January 1865 [8]


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1826 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1826
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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